How To Be Hopeful Episode 34 “The Bank Job- hope, joy, resilience and debt”

In this week' podcast I have the great pleasure of chatting with the team behind The Bank Job" documentary "a feature film and art project pushing for a national debt writeoff as part of a reset for a fairer economic system" 

The seed of this fantastic project began with a conversation between co-creators Dan Edelstyn and Hilary Powell and their neighbour who had heard about "Strike Debt" in the U.S- a movement that was abolishing debt by hacking into the secondary debt market. This conversation came at a time when Dan "was looking for the answer to the question- why am I making films?..... this is the central quest of the bank job... to find a useful thing to do"

We chat about the power and hope to be found in collective debt refusal; and the idea of debt unions, of Dan and Hilary's struggle and journey to find a way to tell the story after their economic awakening when a "whole new world of knowledge" opened up before them.They developed the idea of a "community heist" in their local area of Walthamstow in London, and set about printing and selling their own money as artworks to raise funds. The sales enabled them to purchase and write off the debt of 450 local people; as well as donate to their chosen local charities.They also blew up the debt by exploding a van outside the towers of finance in the City of London. 

We speak about what they hope for " there is a better way of organising society... we urgently need to change and to innovate the systems we live under... we want to look after each other and the world, and pass on something viable to our children" 

Dan says his best tip is to "librate yourself with knowledge" so with this in mind, please join me to watch the preview of the film "The Bank Job" on 11th December 2020 from 7pm here to learn more:


Some books Hilary and Dan recommended are: 

"Debt The First 5000 years" by David Graeber

"Creditocracy and the case for debt refusal" by Andrew Ross

and check out the Jublilee Debt Campaign - a UK charity working to end poverty caused by unjust debt through education, research and campaigning


Thanks so much for listening- more next week! 

Love Bernadette


insta @bernadetterussell




How To Be Hopeful Episode 33 “Hope & Renewable Energy”

This week's podcast is with Nadia Smith, Sustainable Futures Project Manager from South East London Community Energy to talk hope and renewable energy. 

Nadia speaks about  the hope and inspiration she finds in the Dream Renewables project in Dzita, Ghana, and Bright, a young man who has designed a solar system for his primary school after taking part in a renewable energy course.

Her story began when she started noticing the wind turbines whilst at school in Egypt, to getting involved with Engineering Without Borders whilst at University, to working with  SELCE, an organisation based in Lewisham where Nadia was born.

We speak about SELCE's origins: the co-operative was formed in February 2014 by a group of people living in Greenwich and Lewisham. They were strongly aware of the need to tackle climate change and move to low carbon energy.Their aims and ambitions include: installing solar panels on the roofs of schools, churches and community centres throughout SE London, proving cheap and sustainable energy for the community. SELCE also provide a fuel  poverty advice service, giving local people advice on tariffs and energy suppliers. They have recently launched a free online and telephone advice sessions for vulnerable people.

Nadia explains the model of funding the project via selling community shares, and how "people bought shares as Christmas presents... a lot of people invest in us because they think it is the right thing to do.... they are investing in their children's future" 

When the panels are installed on school roofs, the bills are halved but also "the school can show kids what renewable energy looks like" 

The great news is, even if you aren't based in Lewisham, there are community energy groups throughout the UK (and the world)- so its easy to get involved. Community energy groups in England can be found here 

You can find out more about SELCE here

or twitter @SELonCommEnergy 

This podcast is to accompany my book of the same name, which was published in September 2020 and is available all the usual places, but I'd love it if you went here to support independent bookshops 

Thanks so much for listening- more soon!

Love Bernadette 


twitter @betterussell

instagram @bernadetterussell



How To Be Hopeful Episode 32 “A few pounds, big dreams and a lot of hope”

This week I speak about many things including hope, storytelling, free food  and time travel with award-winning British artist, producer and presenter Dawinder Bansal who shares her incredible stories via film and immersive art installations.. 

Dawinder and I chat about her experience of growing up in Wolverhampton in the 80s - being the "youngest daughter of twice immigrant parents"- a time which was "carefree... a brilliant time to be growing up". whilst she was immersed and supported by a tight knit community and her parents Sikh culture. 

She created her wonderful installation and film "Jambo Cinema" as a dedication to her parents "for their sacrifice... and that generation who came here... with a few pounds... and a lot of hope" and she speaks beautifully about the importance of stories "we listen, we tell our stories... we come to understand each other via stories, " 

Dawinder also speaks about her latest project "We Found Love in the 80s" and the encouragement she received from  Martin Ware (of Heaven 17 and Human League fame) to make the project , celebrating love- there is still a chance to get involved with this if you have a story to tell about love you found in the 80s!

To find out more about Dawinder and her amazing projects please go here: https://www.dawinderbansal.com 

To find out more about "We Found Love in the 80s" go here: https://www.wefoundloveinthe80s.com 

Dawinder can also be found on that twitter


Thanks so much for listening as always. This podcast is to accompany my book of the same name, which came out 10th September 2020 and is available in all the usual places

You can find me www.bernadetterussell.com

twitter @betterussell

instagram @bernadetterussell

Much love and more soon

Bernadette x

How To Be Hopeful episode 31 “The Eternal Hope of Science”

This week I speak with Dr Dominic Galliano, physicist and Head of Public Engagement with Research & Teaching at University College London.

Dr Dom tells the incredible story of his journey as a boy from a working class background in Gibraltar who was endlessly curious, to being one of the many incredible scientists across the world striving to democratise science education. Dr Dom managed to get the necessary funding together to begin his  MA “Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces” – he speaks movingly of his perseverance, determination and resilience and also of his “angels” : family members, teacher and friends who helped get him there.

Dr Dom then began his PHD in Portsmouth, along with other mathematicians and cosmologists as they investigated “the start of the universe”. Dom realised that the department was disconnected from the community it was in the midst of, and his work since has been committed to encouraging curiosity in all of us, as he says “science is driven by trying to solve a problem that the world has... This is  where hope lies. and to do this we need diversity in all forms to find solutions that are more robust”

We discuss the importance of challenging the prevailing narrative of a scientist being “a lonely man who isn’t human” – and that hope lies too in this year’s Nobel Prize winners, Andrea Ghez was one of three scientists who was  awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for her work on the study of black holes and the discovery of a supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy, and Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna  were awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry  for discovering genetic scissors-used to change the DNA of animals, plants and microorganisms with extremely high precision. (This technology has revolutionised the molecular life sciences, brought new opportunities for plant breeding, is contributing to innovative cancer therapies and may make the dream of curing inherited diseases come true.)

We chat about the “eternal hope” which lie in the potential  of nuclear fusion and the wonder in the fact that  “most of the universe is still unknown to us” , as well as  utopia and Dr Doms hope that the future includes “new systems  which everyone can benefit from”

You can find Dr Dom on twitter @EngagementDom

And find out more about public engagement at University College London here 

And this year’s public engagement award winners here 

My book How To Be Hopeful is out NOW! and can be found in all the usual places

More soon!

Love Bernadette x

How To Be Hopeful Episode 30- “2020 U.S Election”

This week, on the eve of the 2020 U.S elections, I catch up with the wonderful Nafessa Monroe, actor, poet, writer. Nafeesa speaks about the global  interest in the results of the election “it gives me hope that there are people all over the world just as concerned about the state of the U.S as Americans are”

Nafeesa speaks about her journey and experiences as a young actor of mixed heritage in L.A, with all the challenges and opportunities which came her way. She tells the story of Olympia Dukakis asking her “why aren’t you living in new York? If you need help, I'll help you;” after they did a play together and her subsequent move to New York and career as a theatre actor. We speak about the power of diverse casting on storytelling, and her own company “Classics in Colour” which was “founded on inclusion”

We talk also about the importance of thanking and remembering our ancestors, about art and activism, and about the hope found in the beautiful art, craft and philosophy of Japanese kintsugi.

Lastly, we discuss the previous election,  the Trump presidency and the despair and hope Nafeesa experienced as a result . She says “ I remember vividly the loss of hope, and the disbelief that this was even possible in our world” and how it is this time around on the eve of the 2020 election 

“I’m just as scared, I have all the fear. I know I have done what I have the power to do, which is to vote, and in the next four years I have to do more with the power I have… to activate my arts… to show up and listen.., no matter what there is a lot of work to be done…. so how do we move forward together now?”

We finish on discussing a utopian America, and Nafeesa advises to start moving in this direction by choosing or seeking healing in some way.

You can contact Nafeesa here:

Things we referenced and spoke about can be found here:

Wonderful project about people with seemingly irreconcilable differences talking and listening. https://wearenotdivided.reasonstobecheerful.world

The Green Book trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkZxoko_HC0

Southern law poverty centre (identifying hate groups in U.S)  https://www.splcenter.org

My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathways to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies is by Resmaa Menakem

Info about Kintsugi can be found here 

My book How To Be Hopeful is out NOW! and can be found in all the usual places

More soon!

Love Bernadette x



How To Be Hopeful Episode 29 “Back & Fill- a festival of hope”

I had the treat of speaking with poet, artist and wonderful troublemaker Dan Thompson this week, as he launches his Back & Fill festival: a fantastically ambitious social distance complying yet Covid-defying carnival of creativity in 12 seaside towns from Portrush in Northern Ireland to Westward Ho! in Devon. We chat about Dan's work being about hope and  "giving people the power to do things themselves" and how if you are an artist and/or an activist then you can't "separate it from the rest of your life... ". We speak about an Ian M Banks inspired post-scarcity utopian future "we need to get beyond money and work"  and how we can start to move towards that rosy future "start bartering, start swapping, start giving things away" 

We end with a beautiful prayer by Cardinal Newman, and by chatting about the similarities between him and one of my personal heroes, Mr Motivator. 

You can find out more about all of Dan's wonderful and hopeful work here

This podcast is to accompany my book of the same name, published by Elliott and Thompson, available from your local independent bookshop and here 

To find out more about me, please go here 

Thanks so much for listening- more soon! 

How To Be Hopeful Episode 28: “A Canopy of Hope”

This week I had the pleasure of chatting with Jess Massucco, who manages Trees for Cities  London community outreach and volunteer programme for Urban Forests. Which means Jess gets a lot of Londoners planting a lot of trees! 

Jess spoke about her journey from University to her current post, and all her amazing experiences along the way including growing food with young offenders. 

Hear all about Trees for Cities Edible Playground Projects, and Urban Forest planting plans which "encourage people to access nature... and can be the first step towards environmental action"

Jess speaks about the fact that although Trees for Cities have planted an impressive million plus trees, it is the tree canopy that is really important: " providing a habitat, food and shelter for wildlife... beauty and a sense of place, shelter and cooling and cleaning air.... they prevent flooding and are used in a cool, technical, engineering way, as well as in a warm, symbolic emotional way" and how as an organisation they combine environmental action and social change, inviting action which is good for people and planet. 

Jess gives great tips for getting involved with supporting your local trees, and the importance that we face facts "we are investing time, energy and hope into green infrastructure programmes... we are aware of what we are battling but being honest and truthful leads to hope... we say... its not looking good but there is room to be hopeful"

Jess and I discuss the importance of justice, balance and equal opportunity so that "everything has the chance to thrive" and how she is influenced and inspired by the Black Lives Matters movement.

To get involved with Trees for Cities please go here

Jess also recommended 

Conservation Volunteers, to find out more go here

RSPB, go here

and Wildlife Trust, go here 

and for my local lovely park group Deptford Folk go here


My book "How To Be Hopeful" is out now and is available from all the usual places, including many lovely independents such as Whitstable's newly opened Harbour Books. You can visit them here 

Thanks for listening- more soon


Love Bernadette 

How To Be Hopeful Episode 27 “We Are Meant To Be Telling Each Other Stories”

Such a treat this week to speak with Melody Brown, actor, horse rider and one third of Wondermare along with C. Amanda Maud and Daniel York " a semi-acoustic trio of middle-aged hapa actors... playing quirky folk-rock originals and eccentric covers." 

Mel and I covered so much! We began with her love of Hastings and the hope found in the kindness there, the pleasure to be enjoyed in being kind yourself. 

We moved on to her career as an actor and the how live performance can increase empathy, and help us to understand "the complexity of what it is to be human". She speaks about her recent experience as part of the diverse cast at the RSC, full of people of "all cultures, races, colours, disabilities" and the importance and hope of that diversity. 

Mel speaks about her experience as a bipolar person in a mental health system which is full of "talented people ... who want to do their best but are let down by this government' and how we need "money money money" for the NHS mental health services.

She speaks beautifully about the healing power of her relationship with Miranda the horse " you can't think about the future,  you can't think about the past, when you are with your horse, you are one entity, and it is the most "now" I have ever been"

Mel gives great insight into how we can best help each other at times of mental health crisis " you don't need someone to solve it, you need someone to say that really sucks and I'm sorry.. to listen and not judge"

Mel recommended a book called Fully Automated Luxury Communism by Aaron Batini  as a blueprint to a possible utopia, you can find it at Hastings independent bookshop here 

We didn't get to chat about the band! But you can listen to the mighty Wondermare here

My book "How To Be Hopeful" is out now and is available from all the usual places, including many lovely independents such as Whitstable's newly opened Harbour Books. You can visit them here 

Thanks for listening- more soon


Love Bernadette 

How To Be Hopeful Episode 26 “Hope and Kindness”

This week it was a treat for me to speak with my friend Debbi Marco, author, freelance journalist and fellow champion of kindness. Debbi gives  great advice on how to succeed in a tough industry "be the helpful and the kind person... it helps get you remembered" We talk about how important it is to actively choose the news we consume, rather than just scrolling though our social media feeds "don't take one news source... especially if it is just telling you what you want to hear". Debbi talks about how and where she has found hope recently in helping refugees and witnessing the kindness of so many people. This was something she wrote about beautifully in her new book "The Power of Kindness" an international collection of stories of kindness that happened during lockdown. We spoke about utopia and Deb's hopes for the future too, in which she imagined a future in which kindness was normal, harnessing  the power to change the world for better, for good.

You can buy Debbi's book here , you can also find her on twitter @debbimarco or via her website here 

My book "How To Be Hopeful" is also OUT now! Packed full of hopeful stories, ideas, case studies and things to try, I'm happy to say it is getting lovely reviews already! You can buy it here  


or in your local independent bookshop

'The perfect book for troubling times. The ideas and exercises in How To Be Hopeful will soothe your soul.' Katherine May, author of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times

More stories and chats about hope coming soon

Love Bernadette xxx

How To Be Hopeful Episode 25 “Comedy, cows and cancer”

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with cheeky faced comedian Stevie Gray, AKA "Oldham Guitar Pirate", about his recent gigs in a field in Derbyshire where "the cows were heckling us", how comedy is vital for our positive mental heath, and how lessons learned from a bad gig can help you develop resilience and strength. Stevie tells a story about a gig in Bolton Golf Club which didn't go as well as usual. The organisers told him afterwards "you were by far the worst comedian we've booked in 30 years" and yet he picked himself up (a similar thing, after all, happened to Eddie Izzard among any others, so Stevie knew he was in good company!) He remembered that other people were still booking him, and loving his act, so he got back on stage with hope in his heart and carried on. This amazing strength and humility must have helped him recently when he had a terrifying cancer scare, and in the midst of waiting to hear his test results, whilst still at the hospital, not knowing whether he was about to find out he had a terminal illness, he  made an incredible decision: he immediately set up a Just Giving page pledging to donate all his comedy earnings until 2021 to Cancer Research UK. Stevie hoped to raise £500 "but before I'd even got home from the hospital I'd raised £600!..I was humbled at our generous people are... how kind people are" 

I'm delighted to say that Stevie has received the all clear in the last couple of days but continues to raise funds for Cancer Research UK

If you'd like to donate please visit here

If you'd like to see one of Stevie's fab songs please go here:  

My book "How To Be Hopeful" is OUT now! Packed full of hopeful stories, ideas, case studies and things to try, I'm happy to say it is getting lovely reviews already! You can buy it here  


or in your local independent bookshop

'The perfect book for troubling times. The ideas and exercises in How To Be Hopeful will soothe your soul.' Katherine May, author of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times


More soon! 

Love Bernadette xx

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